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Rossi, Power top chart for Road America practice

by racedaysaeditor | Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Courtesy of the NTT IndyCar Series

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Alexander Rossi and Will Power led an aggressive and adventurous day of practice on the opening of weekend activities for the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR.

Alexander Rossi. Photo by James Black

Rossi’s best lap of 1 minute, 43.1206 seconds (140.131 mph) in the second of three practice sessions held up as the fastest of any NTT IndyCar Series driver on Road America’s 4.014-mile permanent road course. But it wasn’t easy by any means. In-car cameras showed Rossi battling to maintain control of the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, nearly sliding off track several times and bouncing into the air after running over curbing.

REV GROUP GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY AMR: Practice 1 results I Practice 2 results Warmup results I Combined practice results

While he sat atop the leaderboard at the end of the day, Rossi wasn’t comfortable with his car when pushing it to the limit.

“Not too happy with the car right now,” Rossi admitted. “I mean, I’m pleased obviously there’s pace in it, but it’s a handful to drive. Hopefully, we can make that a bit better for tomorrow.”

Will Power. Photo by James Black

Power trailed Rossi on the timesheet by nearly three-tenths of a second. The 2016 Road America race winner was clocked at 1:43.4089 (139.740 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, also in the second practice.

Conversely to Rossi, Power was pleased with his car’s handling.

“The car was really good,” the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion said. “Really happy with it in qualifying trim. Just a matter of massaging on it overnight, get it right in the window. I think we’re there.”

While the 120 minutes of track time during the day saw just two red-flag stoppages – both in the morning session when Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM’s Jack Harvey went off course – numerous drivers dropped wheels off track and kicked up dirt as they tested the limits of their cars and the circuit to wring the most out of a lap. 

Josef Newgarden. Photo by John Cote

Josef Newgarden, winner of three of the first nine races this season and the current points leader, was third quick Friday with a lap of 1:43.4758 (139.650 mph) in the No. 2 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden, also the defending winner at Road America, leads Rossi by 25 points entering the race weekend.

A pair of rookies rounded out the top five on the combined timesheet. Colton Herta was fourth in the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda at 1:43.7415 (139.292 mph), with Felix Rosenqvist fifth in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 1:43.7464 (139.286 mph).

A final practice for the 23 entries is scheduled for noon ET Friday (NBC Sports Goldlivestream). NTT P1 Award knockout qualifying to decide the grid order begins at 4 p.m. Saturday ( NBC Sports Gold livestream, delayed telecast on NBCSN at 5 p.m.).

Live coverage of the 55-lap race starts at noon Sunday on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

‘What They’re Saying’ from Friday practice at REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet):  “It was a good day overall. I thought we were pretty smooth for the most part with no big drama. It’s great to have REV Group on my car this weekend. It’s really great what they’re doing for first responders. It’s always an exciting weekend here at Road America and I think REV Group has made it more exciting with what they’re doing to give back to our first responders. Our car feels good and fast. We’ve been in the top five all day which is a good sign. The boys look like they were pretty good on the pit stops so we just have to put it together in qualifying tomorrow and go race on Sunday and see what we got.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We had a positive day here at the track. This place is very cool and I like driving around this track. I think we made some progress with the cars today, we made some changes from Practice 1 to Practice 2 and I’m feeling comfortable in the car for qualifying. Our goal for tomorrow is to qualify in the top 12 and race from there. I feel like we still have to improve the car a little bit for the race but we have one more practice tomorrow to figure it out. Hopefully we’re going to give the ABC Supply No. 4 Chevy a good race here.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) : “Solid day for the No. 5 Arrow car. Honestly, the results in both of the afternoon sessions are not a true indicator of where we are. I made a little mistake on our (Firestone alternate tires) reds in Practice 2, and with the times being so close, despite being such a long lap, it knocked us down probably a few more spots than it should’ve. In warmup, unfortunately we had a bit of an issue with the car, so we didn’t run many laps; we were more trying to diagnose the problem. We’re not sure what happened yet, but unfortunately it also looks like both of my teammates had issues that session, too. But we’ll figure it out. Lot of confidence in the Arrow guys, lot of confidence in the car.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) : “My first experience at Road America. It’s a very cool track, proper sort of old-school track. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been fun to learn it. Pace-wise and driving-wise today, it’s not been the best. We seem to be struggling a bit in the Arrow car. I thought our day started off well in the first session, and then we sort of haven’t been able to improve as much as others have. We need to dig a bit deeper into that tonight and see why that’s the case. I’m still learning the track, so hopefully I can find a bit more in the driving as well.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) : “It’s great being back here at Road America. It’s such a great track and one I love coming to, as I’m sure the other drivers will tell you. I think we had just an average day today in the PNC Bank car. For whatever reason, the car was just really difficult to drive. It was hard to find any speed so it was a challenge to piece a lap together. We’ll be looking at that and working on it tonight and tomorrow morning so we can improve and be where we need to be for qualifying tomorrow.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) : “It was a good jump from the first practice to the second in the NTT DATA car. In the first practice we thought things weren’t really optimal and the car felt a bit weird, and then into the second practice it felt a lot better – especially on the red tires. I think I have to work on my pace on black tires. Keeping the red tires alive seems to be tricky and a big question mark going into the race, so we’ll see how that works out. We still have one practice to work on things and if we can continue this progress I think we’ll have a good chance this weekend in the No. 10 car.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The car was really good. Really happy with it in qualifying trim. It’s just a matter of massaging on it overnight, get it right in the window. I think we’re there.” (About racing at Road America) “It’s just a cool old-school track. I mean, it’s pretty low grip. The car moves around a lot. Like through the carousel, you’re sliding all the way through there. Yeah, don’t get these sort of tracks anymore. Just a track with a lot of character, old-school. You make a mistake, you certainly pay for it. Yeah, just an enjoyable place.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a good day for us. I think we’re in the ballpark, it looks like we’re one change away to put it in the top 12 so I’m pretty pleased. I had a little bit of a mistake on my fastest lap so it looked a little worse than it is. It was a pretty good start and we haven’t had a good start like this in a while so we have to try to keep the guys (working) together and hopefully we’ll improve tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Gehl / Manitou Honda): “At the end of the day we showed that the Gehl / Manitou Honda has got pace. We need to put it together a little bit better to close the gap on a couple of the Penske guys and a couple of the Andretti Autosport cars, but it’s close. You look at us at a 1:43.9 and then you look on backwards, and it’s going to be close. We should be OK. We’re changing engines tonight. Thanks to Honda and their reliability, we made it to the end of the mileage. We’ll move on to a new bullet for tomorrow.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a very average day for the No. 18 SealMaster Honda team. We just seem to be low on grip, hurting tires and the balance isn’t perfect. Mostly, we are missing grip. We tried a few things and haven’t really improved the car. So, we look at it tonight and see what can come up with tomorrow.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): “It’s my first time driving here at Road America. The track is pretty awesome and it’s nice to be racing around here. It’s definitely a different track, it’s straightforward but very fast. It’s just taking a bit of time to get used to and feeling correct inside the car. So we have a little bit of work to do with our No.19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda, but we’ll give it another go tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): “We had a few issues in Practice 1, which put us on the back foot going to Practice 2. That made things a bit more difficult, although we were super quick on black tires. We needed to make a change to the car before going on to the reds, so we waited until warm-up to put those on and we were P2. It really depends on the circumstances tomorrow, if you can get a clear lap in, but I think we should be in pretty good shape.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet): “We came away with a solid direction we want to go in for tomorrow, which is a big positive. We had an alright day and the car is in a decent spot, we just need to make a few more improvements overnight. We’ll get the Direct Supply Chevy faster for tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “We’re lacking some speed in the straightaways right now, but we’ll take a look tonight and see what might be causing that. We still went through our checklist that we needed to and with rain coming it could still be a really interesting weekend with the Menards Chevy.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It was a pretty good Friday, overall. We had a lap in the first session good enough for P1, but a Red Flag came out as I crossed the line, so it didn’t count. We were P12 in Practice 2, I wasn’t too happy with the balance of the car. Then in the warmup, we made some changes to fix the issue I was fighting and came in P4. It was up and down, but I think all positive at the end of the day. We get one more practice session to make sure it’s just right – but we’ll hopefully be able to fight for the Fast Six tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I’m pretty happy with the car overall. We had speed here last year and I think we were able to build off of that and continue our progress. There’s obviously a couple tweaks we can make to capitalize on what the car has in it, but looking at all four cars, I think we have some good data and heading into tomorrow we’re optimistic that we can put the NAPA machine back on the front row.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) : “The DHL car was good this morning; we led the first session. Then, in the second session – since it’s only Friday – we took some big gambles on setup and we found out what not to do. We were pretty out to lunch this afternoon in P2, but then we changed some things back for the warmup and were P1 again. Sometimes it’s just as valuable to find out what does not work as it is to find out what does. Overall, we’re feeling good with our first day at Road America.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda) : “It seems that we lost pace significantly in the afternoon session and I don’t know why at the moment. I didn’t feel good in the car, it was sliding a bit too much. We tried various setup changes but it just seems like we need to work a little harder for tomorrow. It was a tough session and I don’t know whether it was the conditions or something we did. We will look at the data from the day and come back strong tomorrow.”

PATRICIO O’WARD (No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet) : “I think we have a lot of positives to take out of day one at Road America. We ended the day ninth and the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet is looking really racy and competitive out there. I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. We have some work to do tonight to finalize some minor details to make sure we go faster tomorrow in qualifying and hopefully make the Firestone Fast Six.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet) : “We had a fuel pressure issue in the first session that really set us back on our run plan for the day. We ended up heading back to the garage early in the first session to see what was going on and we were able to narrow it down and thankfully get the issue fixed before heading into the second session. Considering where we started the day here at Road America, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape heading into qualifying tomorrow. We’re going to need every bit of track time that we can get, but the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet feels strong and I’m looking forward to qualifying.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “The track is awesome especially taking my first official laps here, I just wish we could have had a better day today. Session one was tough and then we just didn’t really have that much pace in practice two. It was just one of those days that was pretty unusual for the team. It wasn’t the best day but we will reset overnight and try to be better for tomorrow.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda) : “Today the car was quick, and I felt really comfortable on track. I’m pretty happy with how the day went where we ended the day in fourth position, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going and have a great weekend. The No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda guys need it. It seems like the race will be primarily based on the red tires, so that’s where we focused most of our energy on this session.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda) : “We’re close to where we need to be. We’ve been jumping around a bit too much with setup and need to hone in on something. But I think we found a direction, hopefully with a lot of changes. We need to build on sitting tenth and find a little more for the Firestone Fast Six – but the gap between the top 10 is so tight.”

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